Bike theft is a major issue throughout the Sea to Sky region, averaging four or five thefts per week in Whistler during the summer months and three or four thefts per week in Squamish.
To fight back, the Sea to Sky RCMP has announced a new anti-theft program, Sea to Sky Free Ride, that will include the use of bait bikes equipped with GPS trackers.
"Bike theft across the region has steadily increased over the last few years to the point where we, as police, had to try a new approach to stop it," said Sergeant Rob Knapton of the Whistler RCMP. "The S2S Free Ride Program will allow us to track and recover the stolen bikes and will help identify the people responsible for the theft."
As well as catching thieves and recovering bikes, the bait bike program was also created to discourage thieves from targeting bikes.
"Anyone considering stealing a bike needs to know that our S2S Free Ride bikes are out there, and they won't know which ones they are," said Knapton.
"If you happen to steal one of our bikes we will know exactly where it is and we will be coming to get it back."
While thieves are cutting locks, climbing onto balconies and breaking into homes to steal bikes, owners are also leaving bikes unlocked and unattended.
The RCMP provided this advice to owners to keep their bikes safe:
•Lock your bike no matter how long you are leaving it. Often bikes are stolen within minutes of being parked. Don't trust the lock as it can be removed with minimal effort. Take the extra step and remove the seat or a wheel as an extra deterrent;
•Underground parking lots at apartment/condo complexes are continually targeted. If you are required to store your bike in a designated area, consider multiple locking systems;
•Avoiding leaving your bike in, or on your vehicle;
•Record serial numbers, no matter the value of the bike, to be added to police records. Also, photograph your bike as a reference, and make note of upgraded components or modifications that make your bike stand out.
Bait bikes have been used before in Whistler and elsewhere with some success, although they're not in use as part of a permanent anti-theft program.
However, a provincial bait car program that has been in place in the Lower Mainland since 2002 has been credited for helping to reduce vehicle theft by 71 per cent. Thefts from vehicles also dropped over 60 per cent.